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NABP Supports White House's Commitment to End Illegal Internet Drug Sales

Association Developing New Internet Drug Distributor Identification Program

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill., March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Prescription pain killers are now only second to marijuana in the nation's drug abuse problem. Thought to be "safer" than street drugs, prescription drugs are just as dangerous when they are obtained through illegal means and used without the supervision of a health care practitioner. So often we hear stories about teens and adults dying from overdoses or dangerous combinations of prescription drugs -- the most famous recent death being that of actor Heath Ledger, who was found to have six prescription drugs in his system.

Purchasing prescription drugs without a prescription has become increasingly easy as illegitimate drug distributors host Web sites that will ship drugs to anyone with a credit card number - regardless of their age or need for the drug. Indifferent to patient safety, many of these Web sites dispense medications without a valid prescriptions, as required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. In general, to be valid, a prescription must address a legitimate medical purpose, be written by a physician or other health care provider authorized to prescribe medicine, and be based on a legitimate patient-practitioner relationship. A legitimate Internet pharmacy should have a toll-free phone number for patients to contact pharmacists if they have questions about their medications, and post a street address on its Web site.

In his radio address on March 2, President Bush discussed the dark side of the availability of prescription drugs on the Internet, and how unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists profit from people's addictions. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy(R) (NABP(R)) applauds President Bush's commitment to work with Congress to put an end to the illegal sale of highly addictive prescription drugs on the Internet.

As a champion for patient safety, NABP, too, is doing its part to combat those Internet drug distributors seeking to profit from addiction and abuse. Since 1999, NABP has maintained the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites(TM), or VIPPS(R), program, which accredits online pharmacies that are licensed in good standing by state boards of pharmacy, meet a rigorous 18-point criteria review, and successfully complete an on-site inspection. Currently, 15 pharmacy sites representing more than 12,000 pharmacies carry the VIPPS seal.

In addition, NABP is further increasing its efforts to hold Internet drug distributors accountable for meeting patient safety standards with the development of the Internet Drug Distributor Identification program. When the program launches later this spring, consumers will be able to visit the NABP Web site for a comprehensive database of Internet sites involved in the distribution and dispensing of prescription drugs. This list will clearly identify those Internet sites that legitimately offer prescription medications and that are licensed and practicing in compliance with state and federal laws, as well as sites selling and distributing medications illegally.

Through the Internet Drug Distributor Identification program, NABP also will provide to the state boards of pharmacy and federal law enforcement authorities information on noncompliant Internet drug distributors, including their domain and source information if found. Criteria for distinguishing licensed Internet pharmacies from Web sites illegally offering prescription medication will be based on a modified version of the VIPPS program. These standards are currently being developed with input from stakeholders throughout the pharmacy community.

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its member boards and jurisdictions in developing, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the purpose of protecting the public health.

SOURCE National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
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